Jeff Withey and Travis Releford combined for 48 of Kansas’s 73 points and Kevin Young again led the team in rebounding as the Jayhawks defeated Saint Louis 73-59 in the final of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Sprint Center in Kansas City.
KU jumped out to a 39-25 lead at halftime, led by Releford’s 21 first half points. The Billikens scrapped back and tried to get back into the game, but guard Jordair Jett played only nine minutes due to injury and despite Cody Ellis’s 19 points, KU kept them at arm’s length in the second half.
Releford was the star early after leading the team in scoring Monday night with 17 points. His 40 points over the last two days earned him MVP of the Classic, a special honor since Releford was playing in his hometown. He hit 4-7 three pointers tonight and 2-3 on Monday. He shot 7-13 overall from the floor and 5-6 from the line.
Saint Louis wouldn’t give in though. Both teams scored 34 points in the second half and SLU brought the score to within nine after an Ellis three-pointer with 3:52 left. But every time the Billikens made a run, KU settled down, got the ball in to Withey in position and he made the plays. He regularly drew contact and finished with 11 points from the line in 14 attempts. He added six blocks, including one in the backcourt on a three point attempt.
Ben McLemore scored 11 points, but missed most of the first half in with two fouls. He still collected six rebounds and shot 5-9 from the field. He didn’t commit a foul in the second half. Elijah Johnson only scored five points but delivered nine assists as KU scored 24 baskets with 17 coming with an assist.
Kansas improves to 4-1 and faces San Jose State next Monday at 8:00 p.m. central in Lawrence at Allen Fieldhouse.